Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jan 202020

Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle is a side story set after the events of Chuusotsu! 1st Graduation: Time After Time, a visual novel I read/played and reviewed in 2018.

As a Kickstarter backer, I received a copy of 1.5th Graduation ahead of its public release, and I finished it this weekend.

It’s about 2 hours long and follows Arue as she prepares to take her manga to a doujin event for the first time. An encounter with an arrogant manga artist leads to him betting that Arue, due to her lack of a seal, won’t be able to sell even a single copy.

This not only brings him and Arue into conflict with each other, but also sets her dreams and passion against a belief that profit is all that matters. A new character named Monami is also introduced, and Arue gets to know her across the course of the plot.

I really enjoyed it, and I definitely recommend it if you liked the first Chuusotsu. However, if you haven’t gone through the original, I wouldn’t recommend starting here. Not only is it a short side story, but it doesn’t really explain its world like the original does.

But if you have, it’s great!

There are a lot of funny moments, but many heartwarming parts as well. Just like the original, it takes a premise that could just be a silly story and turns it into something meaningful.

It especially resonated with me since I’m a writer. While I write prose and video game scripts, not manga, I really connected with Arue’s love of creating stories and her general feelings at the doujin event. Talking to someone about your inspirations, the anxiety of sharing your work with people for the first time, the fear of no one wanting to read it… this is all conveyed in a way I connected with quite well.

Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle does a wonderful job of capturing the sense of being a new writer/artist, and it’s a funny, heartwarming side story in the Chuusotsu universe. It ended with a hint that there might be another “graduation,” so I hope we see a full Chuusotsu sequel in the future.

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Jan 152020

During the visual novel Chuusotsu’s Kickstarter campaign, it had a stretch goal for a side story called Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle.

Although the campaign itself didn’t reach that goal, upgrades and add-ons through BackerKit brought Chuusotsu’s funding high enough for the side story to be made.

Now, Chuusotsu! 1.5th Graduation: The Moving Castle has a Steam page and will be released this Friday, January 17.

Backers got it a few days early, so I hope to play it soon and have a review ready. As a side story, it’s supposed to be a couple hours long and focus on a lighthearted adventure at a doujin event set after the main visual novel.

I really enjoyed Chuusotsu, even more than I expected to, so I can’t wait to play The Moving Castle.

And of course, I’m still hoping we’ll see a full sequel someday, too.

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Aug 062018

After I played the demo for Chuusotsu! 1st Graduation: Time After Time, I backed it on Kickstarter.

From the demo, I expected it to be a lighthearted, funny story set in a weird world with a wacky dystopian setting.

And it was! But it was also much more than that.

In this world, everyone is given a seal that determines their job and capabilities. The main character, Arue, is a Chuusotsu, someone who didn’t graduate from middle school and therefore lost her seal. Without a seal, she is both physically and mentally weak, but she signs up for a program that will help her get a chance to take a re-evaluation test.

She and two other Chuusotsu girls are given an apartment to stay in, but there is a condition: they have one week to reach full synchronization with each other and answer the philosophical question, “What makes a wonderful life?”

As I read it (it’s a kinetic novel, so there are no choices), my first impression was that it was the most lighthearted dystopian story I’d ever seen. The three main characters are lovable, there’s lots of goofy moments, and it made me laugh… despite the obvious dystopian setup of their society.

Yet as I read more, the story became more meaningful. It’s pretty funny at times, but it also takes a serious look at Arue’s past and the decisions that brought her to this point. Arue is also torn between two things: what she believes she needs to do (pass the re-evaluation and become a government worker to support her family) and what she wants to do (write manga). You might see the ultimate message coming from a mile away, but it takes a serious, heartfelt journey to get there.

And it doesn’t shy away from the dark side of the setting, either. My early view of it didn’t quite hold up. It has lighthearted moments for sure, but it knows it’s a dystopia.

There were a few twists in the story I never saw coming, and while the main plot wraps up nicely, it does leave several questions for the potential continuation teased at the end.

Click for major Chuusotsu spoiler
More than anything, I’m curious about how they changed Kokoro’s fate. Arue credits the butterfly effect with altering certain things, and that works for most of the changes (in one scene, Arue notices that the anti-Chuusotsu message board gets more extreme in each loop, and I assume that is tied to how they interacted with Kokoro and what she witnessed them doing), but not that final change.

Kokoro would have already had her job long before that week, so how did their final time leap change that? She also spoke differently, which makes me believe it wasn’t a sudden change.

Since the Soul Link machine keeps a record of being activated even after a time leap, my guess is that it–whatever its true purpose is–played some role in changing Kokoro’s past.

There’s a side story coming up next that I’m excited for, but even more than that, I hope they write (and translate) a sequel. I’d love to see more in this universe.

Overall, Chuusotsu! 1st Graduation: Time After Time is a thought-provoking visual novel with a good message about friendship, following your passions, and what makes a wonderful life. It looks cute and quirky on the surface, but it also has a lot of depth.

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